Ubuntu: Building a community

Jono Bacon recently blogged about re-energizing loco teams. I agree with Jono that having solid local communities is critical to driving the adoption of Ubuntu. I am also in agreement that the loco teams have been hampered by a bureaucratic process that governs how and where people can form teams.

Fewer people have been participating in teams, we have some rather bureaucratic processes in place for how and where people can form teams, and LoCo teams are not as optimized for success as they could be.

Jono seems to indicate that the reason for fewer people participating is the bureaucratic process. It is my understanding that the limitations were put in place to assist with the flow of resources from Canonical to LoCo teams. Approved teams used to get larger conference packs and shipments of CDs. Canonical did not have the resources for vetting each request and wanted to ensure an equitable distribution. To do so LoCo teams were created and boundaries were drawn. I always felt that the rewards were backwards. Teams getting started would get more use out of CDs and swag than established teams.

Put simple, I feel our LoCo Team community could benefit from stronger and more visible leadership.

I am not sure that the issue is a lack of visible or strong leadership as much as a lack of functional ability to make things happen. Canonical controls the purse strings, not the LoCo Council. As an example when I was first starting as an Ubuntu advocate I wanted to organize my local team to exhibit at the annual NYSCATE conference, but was unable to secure funding. This was not something that my LoCo teams could fund, nor was there any mechanism in place for the LoCo council to fund such an idea. I ended up offering a full day course on open source software in the classroom and gave two presentations, but there was no presence on the sales floor. I was able to give of my time and expertise, but could not afford to buy a spot on the sales floor.

On a philosophical level I think there is a need to call for more visible guidance and leadership by example. I am not sure how to accomplish that given the existing framework of a council.

Ideas are easy to have, delivering real practical solutions that drive improvements is harder, and we need more of the latter. We need people who are willing to make change happen in a practical way.

How does a council make things happen in a practical way? It is individuals that make things happen. To me a council can provide:

  • A framework for activity
  • A way of resolving disputes
  • Advice to those asking for help
  • Make suggestions to Canonical on how to stimulate local community growth

I think the most powerful thing the LoCo council can do is to cultivate leadership abilities in new people while encouraging them to organize their local communities. I think this must take place on a micro scale and not on the macro scale it has been happening on.

I want to see the council bring leadership, challenge the norms, challenge our bottlenecks, and build a culture of innovation and change around our LoCo Teams.

I agree with Jono that we need to challenge the norms and bottlenecks. We need to encourage innovation, change and leadership. I am not sure we need to use the word team though… community is good enough for me. Teams are for players on the pitch or on the diamond. Teams are for projects. User groups and communities are for people who want to spread the word about something they are excited and passionate about. Communities need to be allowed to grow with the LoCo Council providing fertilizer as needed, but without the current boxed-in definition of what a team is.

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